By Jolyn Tay
The Malayan Medical Journal is a quarterly scientific record that seeks to journal and archive observations about the occurrence of diseases in Singapore and Malaysia and its changing patterns.
According to Lim (2011), doctors in Malaysia “journaled what they observed and learned, because they encountered diseases and problems in Malaysia that most of the doctors who had their training in the United Kingdom had not encountered before. It was in these journals that findings about malaria and beri-beri were presented. It was here that discoveries about melioidosis and the treatment of yaws and leprosy were recorded” (page 173).
Each volume contains various articles on medical topics, reports of cases, clinical notes, and memoranda.
For instance, in the issue of 1959/6, the writer wrote in detail the beliefs and superstition of the pregnant mother and child. He believed that background knowledge of such practices was helpful in the “understanding and treatment of these people, in that gentle substitution of Western magic can be made for Eastern magic.”
Another interesting article on “Autoserum Treatment of Opium Addiction” can be found in the 1937/11 publication. The writer experimented with a treatment to help opium addiction and he wrote, “the therapy consists in drawing serous fluid from a blister raised on the patient’s own skin by applying irritant plaster and injecting the fluid into him hypodermically.” The treatment was trialed on 10 cases and the results seemed to be positive although he noted that “the number of cases on which the treatment has been tried is too small to express an opinion.”
The history of the journal goes back to as early as the 1800s. There were various name changes to the publication including The Melayan Medical Journal and The Medical Journal of Malaya, amongst other. The formal was published before WWII and latter post WWII. Copies of both can be accessed easily in our online library Digital Gems.
These records of past medical practices can help to provide knowledge and insights to medical history and possibly shed some light
on modern medical challenges in this region.
All images of the book are taken from The Malayan Medical Journal.